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Beyond the Frame: Adriana Colombo

2 years ago

2021 Alpha Female Award winner Adriana Colombo shares the story behind her wonderfully heart-warming portrait of a father and son.

I stretched out the father Silvestro's arms and when I placed the baby, Martin, in his arms, he melted into a beaming smile

My name is Adriana Colombo but everyone knows me as Ady. Since 2018 I’ve been a professional photographer. I was a building surveyor, which I enjoyed, but my real passion has been photography since I picked up a camera several years ago. 

I started attending a basic photography course in 2014 after buying my first DSLR camera. The course teacher took me under his wing and asked if I would like to be his assistant on wedding shoots. It was during those jobs that I started to capture what a masculine eye might miss. He concentrated on photographing the protagonists of the event and capturing key moments: the tear the father of the bride dries in secret; the little girl who plays with the bride’s veil. I would constantly walk around with my camera and try to seek out something that might just be a cursory glance for most. I am particularly drawn to photographing faces and hands. I am always looking for that compelling portrait that tells us something about the sitter. I have moved on from assisting weddings and now have a small studio for photoshoots. I specialise in maternity photography. My pictures are mostly mothers with their children – especially newborns. 

My photograph that won the Alpha Female Award in the 2021 Sony World Photography Awards is of a newborn baby and his father. In this early period (when the babies are less than 15 days old), fathers are always a little in the background. Mothers are often seen as the chief providers of this new life - from pregnancy to childbirth to nursing the child. I try to involve the fathers, so they feel an integral part of this miracle. They are often more clumsy than the mothers so I try to direct them a little more. I stretched out the father Silvestro's arms and when I placed the baby, Martin, in his arms, he melted into a beaming smile, his eyes lit up and...I took the shot! I focused on the baby’s hands and head, leaving everything else slightly out of focus. I wanted to convey the father’s message ‘the world is in my hands.’ 

Since I bought my Sony a7II, I’ve been following Sony's news with interest. When I saw the Sony World Photography Awards I immediately thought of this shot. I find the photograph deeply moving so I hoped it would conjure the same response with the jury. I was so pleased when it did and I won first prize! Winning the Alpha Female Award has pushed me to be better and better, to encapsulate emotion and seek out artistic portraits. I dedicate this award to my own father, who I lost recently. He always supported me and when he looked at my photos his eyes were full of emotion. I’m glad I made him proud.